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of the work of Redemption; providences are not only to be marked and acknowledged, but it is to be seen to what great point they converge, what consummation they hasten.
The entirely new method of History thus suggested, is in fact the one adopted by D'Aubigné, with a more vivid dramatic arrangement and coloring, but for the same end, the manifestation of the Divine directing the human, in subordination to the cross. The endeavor to find God, gradually discovers all truth; so this method is destined to reveal the depths of history, and as soon as all the facts of history come to be viewed in this significant light, it will appear as a new science. All history is in fact but an adjunct to Church history, and Church history begins with the creation. If there could be anything cut apart from Church history, so that between the two there can be no connexion traced, the gulf would be like that of chaos, separated by a wall of light from Heaven, and filled with nothing better than a conglomeration of wood, hay, and stubble. But all things tend, in one way or another, into the channel of the work of Redemption; they may tend thus by discipline, if in no other way; and events which seem disconnected from that channel for ages, yet come up afterwards, like streams that have run under ground, reappearing, to pour into the great sea.
The existence of Homer might seem for centuries an affair having nothing to do with the world's redemption. By and by comes up Plato, then Aristotle, then Alexander, and Homer's mind pours through these channels into the soul of the world's conqueror, and Homer's native Greek is spread over the East by the same impulse that makes Alexander a half incarnation of Homer's Achilles. Then comes the translation of the Septuagint, so that the birth of Homer and the spread of God's Word, though disconnected by an interval of hundreds of years, are linked by no fanciful, but a real, deep, and most remarkable connexion.
The poet Goethe said that Aristotle was like a huge Pyramid resting on the earth, and built mathematically for the earth; while Plato shoots upward towards heaven like an obelisk, yea, like a pointed flame. Now there are these two types of character, and only these, in all historical literature. The greater part of history rests upon the earth as its foundation, and has the earth for its end; if it is mathematically correct, and solid as a Pyramid, it is only a mausoleum for dead bones, and even its apex does not mean to shoot towards heaven, any more than one of its four corners. But another, though as yet a very small part of history, shoots like the obelisk to heaven; yea, as a pointed flame, or a chariot of flame, carries the soul up to God. Just so, indeed, in all science; one part has the earth only for its object, and is dead; another part has God for its object, and is alive.
The facts of history are living or dead facts, according to the
mind of the observer, and the use men put them to. God lets them remain, sometimes, with their meaning hidden, or overlaid by men's speculations. God lets men work upon providences and facts first, secularly, for their own purposes, sifting them and coloring them for themselves. Next he passes the same facts under different conjunctures, through other mediums, bringing them nearer to a perfection for his purposes. Then he raises up workmen to interweave them, so prepared, into a true history of the Divine Providence in human affairs. Such a history demands the highest qualities and accomplishments of the human mind at work upon it.
There is yet room for such a History of the Puritans. Such a history is demanded, written on the same general plan with D'Aubigné's History of the Reformation. It will be one of the grandest subjects ever yet given to a man of genius; and its masterly execution would make a work so full of interest in regard to the ways of God's Providence and grace, that nothing out of the Divine records could be a more impressive and delightful study. Perhaps the time has not fully come. The facts have not passed through all their previous processes of preparation. They are rapidly doing so, at the hands both of enemies and friends. One man takes them, and puts them in this light, another in that. One constructs a gallery for their arrangement with only one window; another has a skylight, but without the direct sun; another builds a huge camera obscura; one seeks to reveal, another to distort, another to hide. By and by, some mind of united genius and piety will arise, and gather all the facts into the right point of view, with God's own light shining on them, and then this history, with the great consequences traced from it, will be the foremost history of all the modern world, in importance and complete development.
The preparations for this great work are gradual and slow. Whole masses of opinion rise and fall again, the tides go in and out, sands shift, and coasts, almost, are altered. The sea rolls where there were palaces. Now and then comes up a mass of materials, with a hand like Carlyle's, to arrange them, under the guidance of an unprejudiced, independent, heroic, and sympathizing mind, and the being whom nearly all the world saw before as a hypocrite and usurper, shines forth, confessed, a man of Truth, a Hero, and a Christian. If the fixed lights of our universe were once wandering mists, which ages have condensed into form and glory, it is no more than takes place in the moral universe, with the growth and fixedness of truth. The elements are long at work. At length nebulosities become distinctly formed masses, and what was at first dimly and falsely seen in other lights, is found to have an unchangeable and imperishable light of its
Carlyle's work on Oliver Cromwell is the first brilliant, strong, steady light thrown back from modern times into the recesses of the English Puritanic Epoch. It is one of the most valuable books ever published in this country. It is a book, we might almost say, of Homeric grandeur and simplicity, an Epic in its way, the story of a mighty life, and a mighty period. The partial grotesqueness of manner, half serious, half satirical, cannot diminish the sublimity of its impression, and the way is prepared for a thoughtful, steady investigation of the play of motive and character in the life and soul of the great man, heretofore misrepresented, but now reproduced, an undissembled, undissembling reality.
Next comes the Vindication of the Protector by D'Aubigné ; another work of great value, which we are glad to see published by Mr. Carter in as accessible a form as the History of the Reformation. It is important and valuable as the Christian Commentary of an unbiassed and acute mind, passing the facts more deliberately and clearly under the searching light of the Divine Law, and tracing in them the paths of Divine Providence and grace. Few things can be more instructive than two such works, brought together from two such minds, shining on one another's path, and on the religious and secular phases of the same period and subject. When the times are ready, such works are powerfully revolutionary in public opinion. There is already a complete reversal of the judgment passed on Cromwell by the enemies of the man, his republicanism, his patriotism, and his piety.
"With the documents before us, which have been published at various times," says D'Aubigné, "we are compelled, unless we shut our eyes to the truth, to change our opinion of him, and to acknowledge that the character hitherto attached to this great man, is one of the grossest falsehoods in all history. Charles II., who succeeded him after Richard's short protectorate, and this monarch's courtiers, not less immoral, but still more prepossessed than himself; and the writers and statesmen, too, of this epoch, all of them united in misrepresenting his memory. The wicked followers of the Stuarts have blackened Cromwell's repu
D'Aubigné declares that in his earnest search into the law of the remarkable unity in Cromwell's character, he has been compelled to discard the hypothesis by which the majority of historians have been content, with a mixture of indolence and injustice as disgraceful to the genius, as it is injurious to the morals of history, to account for the seeming contradictions in his nature, the trite and easy hypothesis of a consummate hypocrisy. He has been compelled, by the absolutism of facts, to drop and reject this miserable solution. "The documents now before us are a striking contradiction," says he, "to this hypothesis; and no writer
who possesses the smallest portion of good faith, will ever venture to put it forward again."
The character of this great man he declares to be one of the most astonishing problems that time has handed down to us; a problem, the historical darkness of which is scattered, as darkness is driven from the natural world, only gradually, and by slow degrees. He has been presented as a hero to the world; "I present him," says D'Aubigné, "as a Christian to Christians, to Protestant Christians; and I claim boldly, on his behalf, the benefit of that passage of Scripture, Every one that loveth God that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him."
The worth of these declarations is rendered very great, by the struggle, the resistance, the conviction, against former opinion and strong prejudice, through which a man, perhaps the greatest historian of the modern age, has been forced into them. A foreigner, and therefore placed in a position of impartiality not to be gained by Cromwell's own countrymen, D'Aubigné had been nevertheless carried by the stream of royalist English history into the gulf of falsehood; he had been as hopelessly plunged in the common misrepresentation and delusion as any of the readers of English history from their childhood in their native land. It was only by a struggle that he got out of this gulf; but let it be marked-it was not a struggle to get out, but to keep in; it was the wrestling of the truth with him, that overcame him, and not his wrestling with falsehood that overcame that. The power of truth raised him from the gulf, and brought him into the light, in spite of his own resistance against it. This is an extraordinary fact.
"We have," says he, "so deeply imbibed in our early youth the falsehoods maintained by the Stuart party, and by some of Cromwell's republican rivals, among them the narrow-minded Ludlow and the prejudiced Holles, that these falsehoods have become in our eyes indisputable truths. I know it by my own experience, by the lengthened resistance I made to the light that has recently sprung up, and illuminated as with a new day, the obscure image of one of the greatest men of modern times. It was only after deep consideration that I submitted to the evidence of irresistible facts." This experience is of a character that will give, and ought to give, by itself, apart from D'Aubigné's reputation and power as a historian, the greatest weight to his vindication of the Protector. That vindication is at once a work of conscience and of love, and of that principle which impels D'Aubigné in all his historical studies, the acknowledged duty and desire of accepting and presenting God and not man, God's truth and providence, instead of man's ambition and intrigue. Hence he says, speaking of the fact that it is seldom that a great man is a Christian, but that Cromwell was both, "it would be an act of great meanness, a criminal falsehood, if those who, by studying the life of
this great man, find in him an upright heart, and a sincere piety, should unite their voices with those of his detractors. We, on our part, desire to the utmost of our ability to renounce all participation in this gross imposture."
Who is there, but must be delighted with this frank determination? We hope the life and mind of D'Aubigné will be spared and sustained to go through the whole History of the Reformation in England with the same determination. There are plenty of gross impostures to be dissipated, and Christian lights to be hung up in their stead. We accept this noble memorial of Cromwell's true character by the great Historian of the Reformation of the sixteenth century, as a pledge of the impartiality, independence, and Christian feeling and discernment, with which he will carry his researches into the caves of ecclesiastical history in England. We are yet to view those recesses opened to the daylight, and no longer to wander through them under the care of guides with torches, revealing little else but the splendor of prelatical stalactites, appearing to support the roof, when in reality they hang from it. A Reformation that stops in semi-popery can never afterwards be expected to go on to perfection; but the history of its mingled light and darkness, with all the admonitory lessons to be drawn from it, we may yet have in such perfection, that the value of the experience may be worth to the world. almost its incalculable cost.
D'Aubigné's remarks on the character and position of the Protector are closed by a solemn warning, which cannot be deemed exaggerated, considering the indications of the present age. "If there is any one man, who in times past has contributed more than another, more than all others, to the wonders of the present day, that man is Oliver Cromwell. The existing greatness of England is but the realization of the plan he had conceived. If that enthusiasm for the gospel, if that opposition to Popery, those two distinctive characteristics of his mind, which Cromwell has imprinted on the people of Great Britain, should ever cease in England; if a fatal fall should ever interrupt the Christian course of that nation; and if Rome, which has already ruined so many kingdoms, should receive the homage of Old England-then should I at any period revisit her shore, I should find her glory extinct, and her power humbled in the dust."
We come now to another work, the title of which we have placed at the head of these pages. At the period when that work was written, a more valuable contribution to historical literature had hardly ever been made, than the History of the Puritans by Mr. Neal. It was, and still is, a noble work. We are glad that it has been printed again in this country, in so accessible and convenient a shape, by the Harpers. As a work of genius, none ever claimed for it a pre-eminence. But as a work of